Part 11: Teaching Strategies for Students with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism – Academic Difficulties

Kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA):
  • frequently have an excellent rote memory, but it is mechanical in nature (i.e., the youngster may respond like a video that plays in set sequence)
  • have a pedantic speaking style and impressive vocabularies that give the false impression that they understand what they are talking about, when in reality they are merely parroting what they have heard or read
  • have poor problem-solving skills 
  • tend to be very literal (i.e., their images are concrete, and abstraction is poor)
  • usually have average to above-average intelligence – especially in the verbal sphere – but lack high level thinking and comprehension skills

Programming Suggestions for Teachers:

1. The writing assignments of students with AS and HFA are often repetitious, flit from one subject to the next, and contain incorrect word connotations. These kids frequently do not know the difference between general knowledge and personal ideas, and therefore assume the teacher will understand their sometimes obscure expressions.

2. Provide a highly individualized academic program engineered to offer consistent successes. The youngster with AS or HFA needs great motivation to not follow his own impulses. Learning must be rewarding and not anxiety-provoking.

3. Offer added explanation, and try to simplify when lesson concepts are abstract.

4. Kids with AS and HFA often have excellent reading recognition skills, but language comprehension is weak. Do not assume they understand what they so fluently read.

5. Multiple levels of meaning, emotional nuances, and relationship issues as presented in novels will often not be understood.

6. Do not assume that kids with AS and HFA understand something just because they parrot back what they have heard.

7. Capitalize on these students’ exceptional memory. Retaining factual information is frequently their forte.

8. Academic work may be of poor quality because the youngster with AS or HFA is not motivated to exert effort in areas in which she is not interested. Very firm expectations must be set for the quality of work produced. Work executed within timed periods must be not only complete, but done carefully. The “special needs” youngster should be expected to correct poorly executed classwork during recess or during the time she usually pursues her own interests.

Teaching Students with Aspergers and HFA

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